Wallaby dismisses scrum cheating claims - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Wallaby dismisses scrum cheating claims

By Darren Walton and Daniel Gilhooly 22/07/2008 07:07:24 PM Comments (0)

The Wallabies have brushed off accusations they cheat at scrum time and turned their attention to nullifying All Blacks captain Richie McCaw in Saturday night's Bledisloe Cup opener in Sydney.

The scrum is again a source of controversy in the lead-up to the first of four trans-Tasman Tests this year after New Zealand assistant coach Steve Hansen and former All Blacks prop John Drake on Tuesday both claimed the Wallabies used illegal tactics at the set piece.

Drake bluntly branded the Wallabies cheats, insisting their pre-engagement routine was illegal during the 16-9 defeat of the world champion Springboks in last Saturday night's Tri Nations clash in Perth.

"I can't believe they got away with what they did at scrum time with their technique of entering," Drake told ABC Radio.

"The biggest thing I probably got out of the Test is the way that they probably cheated at scrum time.

"They pack very high, similar to what the Crusaders and the All Blacks did about three years ago.

"When they say 'crouch', they're still high so the other team has to try and come up to them. It kind of puts them off, and then the Australians just dive straight down. I was pretty annoyed with that."

Wallabies flanker Rocky Elsom said such accusations were nonsense.

"That's probably the last thing we want to do because when the scrum gets collapsed, we get penalised first. That doesn't help us."

Indeed, the Wallabies scrum has been universally maligned in recent years, with referees tending to blame Australia's perceived shortfalls for the set piece collapsing rather than suspect weakness from opposing packs.

Hansen less directly claimed Australian halfback Luke Burgess effectively spun the ball into the scrum to deliver quick, easy possession against the Springboks.

He suggested Burgess rolls the ball in so it shoots quickly through Australia's front and second rows directly to the feet of No.8 Wycliff Palu.

"They're clever with the way they do things, you've only got to look at the way the halfback puts the ball in," Hansen told journalists in Wellington.

"They've adapted their scrum to suit the way they play. They don't keep the ball in the scrum for a very long time."

While the cheating accusations swept quickly across the Tasman into the Wallabies camp in Sydney, a more diplomatic Elsom opted against fanning the flames when asked if he believed McCaw flaunted the rules to gain an advantage at the breakdown.

"As for Richie McCaw cheating at the breakdown, if you are getting away with it, it is not cheating," Elsom said after his back-row adversary was bracketed alongside Daniel Braid in the All Blacks team on Tuesday.

Wallabies coach Robbie Deans will name his 22-man squad on Wednesday.

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